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4 travelers from South Africa test negative for COVID-19 in Negros Occidental

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The three South Africans and one returning overseas Filipino from the said country who arrived before the travel ban related to the Omicron variant had all tested negative for COVID-19.

This was announced by the provincial government of Negros Occidental, where they proceeded after arriving in the country in late November.

Two of the travelers arrived in the Philippines on November 24 while the last arrived on November 26 before the government banned the entry of travelers from South Africa.

Omicron, the latest variant of concern designated by the World Health Organization, was first detected in South Africa. 

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said the situation is already under control even as he asked the public to remain vigilant. 

"It tells us that the virus is in control. It will decide to mutate when it wants to, so we should continue to be vigilant. We need to protect ourselves by using face masks and don't throw away your face shields because we might need [them] again in the future," Lacson said.

The Philippines imposed a travel ban on several countries over the new variant, said to be more infectious than other COVID-19 variants. The temporary measure was announced on the evening of November 26.

The variant, which is found to have more than 30 mutations, is being blamed for the surge in cases in South Africa.

The foreigners were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. They are currently under quarantine in the province.

Authorities are still conducting contact tracing.

The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) is monitoring 64 individuals who entered the Philippines before travel restrictions could be imposed over their countries of origin. 

"Tatapusin po nila 'yong 14 days mandatory quarantine. Sa ngayon po, wala po silang sintomas," BOQ deputy director Roberto Salvador Jr. said. 

(They must complete the 14-day mandatory quarantine. So far, they have not displayed symptoms of COVID-19.)

The Department of Health said the Omicron variant has yet to be detected in the country. -NB/VBL, GMA News

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